Religious liberty in the workplace is a major area of emphasis for Liberty Institute. Amidst growing hostility toward religion, more questions than ever before have arisen concerning what kind of religious expression is allowed in the workplace—and to what extent. Adapted from a talk given by Liberty Institute General Counsel Jeff Mateer, here are 7 things every business person should know about faith in the workplace. . . .
- You cannot discriminate on the basis of religion. This means religion cannot be used as a factor in hiring decisions, promotions, treating employees unequally, or harassment.
- You do not lose your religious liberty rights by engaging in business. The U.S. Supreme Court’s recent decision in the Hobby Lobby case quashes the notion that Americans lose their religious rights by engaging in business. The case affirmed that all Americans—including business owners—have the rights to live and work according to their beliefs without fear of government compelling them to violate their beliefs. Perhaps most importantly, the Supreme Court ruled that courts are not permitted to question whether or not a religious belief is reasonable, meaning that your sincerely held religious beliefs are yours alone.
- A business can be run on religious principles. An employer does not discriminate on the basis of religion by affirming the faith of its owners in business objectives, and business owners are not required to abandon their faith when setting principles and ethics for their company. A businessperson of faith is free to run his or her business according the ethics they have learned via religious instruction.
- You may engage in religious speech in the workplace. Employers can talk to employees about faith, so long as faith is not a requirement for continued employment or advancement within the company. Employers cannot, however, take adverse action against an employee for disagreeing with their religious views.
- You may have prayer meetings and Bible studies in the workplace. Employers are allowed to hold prayer meetings in the workplace, so long as attendance is not mandatory. Notices about these meetings should clearly say so, and the meetings are best held before or after work, or during breaks.
- You may have employee training based on Biblical principles. Employers are allowed to use training programs that are Biblically or faith-based. For example, an employer could require an employee to attend a management seminar that uses scriptural references as a part of its training. However, employees cannot be required to undergo religious training, participate in religious services or religious activities, or engage in behavior that would violate their sincerely-held religious beliefs.
- You may be headed for a collision between your religious freedom and the new cultural orthodoxy. Liberty Institute is currently representing three different clients whose religious liberties have been compromised in workplace discrimination cases. Each of these cases point to a growing hostility toward employees’ religious rights in the workplace. Even though the law is on the side of religious liberty—as seen in points 1-6 above—the rise of a “politically correct” corporate culture has made it necessary to have courageous people of faith willing to stand on their rights against discriminators, and expert lawyers ready to defend them.
Liberty Institute is taking strong legal action in cases including the following:
- Former college football and NFL star and sports broadcaster Craig James was recently terminated by FOX Sports from his on-air position because of his religious beliefs concerning marriage. James expressed these views outside of the workplace during a U.S. Senate debate prior to working for FOX Sports.
- Former editor-in-chief of The Newton Daily News Bob Eschliman was terminated for comments made on his personal blog about Scripture and the institution of marriage.
- Dr. Eric Walsh, former Pasadena Director of Public Health, was offered a job by the Georgia Department of Health that was quickly withdrawn when the State reviewed sermons Dr. Walsh made in his church.
These cases represent a small sector of the growing hostility toward religious expression in the workplace. Liberty Institute is fighting against these injustices and others like them, but we need your help to continue to defend religious freedom in America today. If we fight, we will win—but we must have the funds, lawyers, and clients.
CLICK HERE to download your free copy of “7 Things Every Business Person of Faith Should Know.”
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About Liberty Institute
Liberty Institute is a nonprofit legal group dedicated to defending and restoring religious liberty across America — in our schools, for our churches, in the military and throughout the public arena. Liberty’s vision is to reestablish religious liberty in accordance with the principles of our nation’s Founders. For information, visit www.LibertyInstitute.org.